Sunday, April 22, 2012

Swimming with Turtles at Bounty Bay

Swimming with Turtles at Bounty Bay

We had heard that there were turtles in Bounty Bay but until yesterday we had not seen any.  The bay which is normally crystal clear has been murky since early February due to the large amount of sediment in the water after the landslide which deposited many tons of rock and clay  into the water.

Yesterday as we stood on the concrete wharf we saw the turtles.  I had imagined that they were little cute things!  Not so.  These are large turtles 60-95 cm long with an overhanging top beak and beady eyes.  There were three of them. They came up for air every 3-5 minutes and we got a good look at them.  I was just getting ready for a swim and thought that they might be inquisitive to see me in the water.  Their backs have a distinctive hexagonal pattern and a spotty mottled pattern was around their necks and on their flippers.

We were told that the Bounty Bay turtles are Leatherback turtles, but after googling the information on Leather backs I have my doubts that we saw Leatherbacks.  What we saw looked more like Hawksbill Sea Turtles.  The distinctive overlapping scutes, curved beak with an overbite and two claws on the front flippers are the identifying factors. We will definitely be keeping an eye out for them again.

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